Mumbai/New Delhi: Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar rushed to CM Devendra Fadnavis' residence late at night, ahead of the crucial Supreme Court on floor test. In the meeting that lasted for 40 minutes, the two leaders are learnt to have discussed the apex court hearing and the ministerial berths that would be given to Ajit Pawar's group.
The Bharatiya Janata Party, however, said that it was a "routine meeting" to discuss "floor management and Supreme Court judgment". "Cabinet assurances were given before bringing Ajit Pawar on-board," a BJP source.
Senior BJP leaders Chandrakant Patil, Vinod Tawade and Girish Mahajan were also present at the closed-door meeting held at the official residence of the chief minister.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court issued notices to the Centre, Maharashtra government, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar on a plea filed by the Congress-Shiv Sena-NCP combine seeking quashing of the governor's November 23 order inviting the BJP leader to form government.
The apex court directed the Centre to place before it on Monday morning the letters of the governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari inviting Fadnavis and of the BJP leader staking his claim to form the government in the state.
BJP Flew 3 Party MLAs to Delhi, Says NCP
The NCP on Sunday night claimed three MLAs, who among others had attended swearing-in of Ajit Pawar as deputy chief minister on Saturday, were flown to Delhi in a chartered plane by the BJP the same day.
NCP chief spokesperson Nawab Malik said the three MLAs have said that they are with the party. He said while Daulat Daroda and Nitin Pawar have sent video messages saying they are with the NCP, another MLA Narhari Zirwal's message was shared on the twitter handle of the NCP.
Daroda, Pawar and Zirwal represent Shahapur, Kalwan and Dindori assembly constituencies, respectively. "Daulat Daroda, Nitin Pawar and Narhari Zirwal were taken to Delhi by the BJP in a chartered plane on Saturday," Malik said, adding that "Pawar and Daroda have sent us their video messages saying they are with the party".
Earlier in the day, Malik said that apart from the three MLAs, Babasaheb Patil (Ahmedpur), Anil Patil (Amalner) were reported 'missing'.
NCP MLAs Shifted to Another Mumbai Hotel, Sena Legislators to be Moved Soon
In another late night development, MLAs of the NCP were shifted from a suburban resort to another hotel in Mumbai. The MLAs travelled in a bus to Hotel Hyatt from Hotel Renaissance in Powai where they were put up since Saturday night, hours after NCP leader Ajit Pawar joined hands with the BJP in a coup and took oath as deputy chief minister.
It is also learnt that MLAs of the Shiv Sena, who are staying at Lalit Hotel near the Mumbai airport, will also be moved to another hotel. Meanwhile, independent MLA Ravi Rana, who has extended his support to the BJP, claimed the Shiv Sena will witness a "big earthquake" soon. He claimed that Fadnavis will get the support of 175 MLAs.
BJP, Opposition Camp Hold Meetings in Mumbai
Top leaders of the BJP and opposition Congress-Shiv Sena-NCP combine held a series of separate meetings to brace themselves for an impending floor test.
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and AICC general secretary Mallikarjun Kharge held a string of meetings with Maharashtra Congress leaders and MLAs throughout the day. Congress MLAs are staying at JW Marriott in Juhu.
According to sources, Patel and Kharge coordinated with the legal team of senior Congress leaders-cum-lawyers Kapil Sibal and Abhishek Manu Singhvi in Delhi. The Sena-Congress-NCP combine had moved the supreme court on Saturday demanding that the floor test be held within 24 hours. However, the apex court on Sunday said it would deal with the matter on Monday.
What Ensued in Supreme Court
In an unprecedented special hearing on a Sunday, a bench of Justices N V Ramana, Ashok Bhushan and Sanjiv Khanna, however, rejected the plea by the 3-party combine to direct the Fadnavis government to undertake the floor test within 24 hours, saying this issue would be dealt with only after perusing the two letters.
According to BJP leader Ashish Shelar, Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari has given time till November 30 to the new government to prove its majority on the floor of the House. During the 30-minute hearing that began at 11.30 a.m in a packed court room, the apex court said the plea of the post-poll alliance, 'Maha Vikas Aghadi', seeking a direction to the Governor to invite them to form government under the leadership of Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray would not be considered for the present.
Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar were sworn in by Koshyari at 8 am on Saturday at a hush hush ceremony in Raj Bhavan in Mumbai after dramatic midnight developments, leading to the lifting of the President's rule. The BJP was propped up by NCP's Ajit Pawar who revolted against his party headed by his uncle Sharad Pawar. Ajit Pawar was made the deputy chief minister.
The top court also issued notices to the Centre, Maharashtra government, Fadnavis and Ajit Pawar on the petition filed on Saturday night by the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party(NCP) Congress combine against the Governor's decision to swear in the BJP leader as the chief minister.
Ajit Pawar, meanwhile, set the political circles abuzz with his statement that he is still with the NCP and that Sharad Pawar continued to be his leader. Sharad Pawar for his part said, there is no question of forming an alliance with the BJP. "Ajit Pawar's statement is false, misleading and aimed at creating confusion, false perception among people."
"As adjudication of the issues and also the interim prayers sought by the petitioners to conduct floor test within 24 hours has to be considered after perusing the order of the Governor as well as the letters submitted by Devendra Fadnavis even though none appeared for the state government, we request Tushar Mehta to produce those two letters by Saturday morning at 10.30 AM when the matter will be taken up, so that appropriate order will be passed," the top court said.
(With PTI inputs)